Most politically inclined individuals know what the word filibuster means: it's a delaying tactic employed in the Senate to try and put off important votes or decisions. But almost no one is aware that this annoying procedure comes from a word for pirate. This word descended from the Danish word vrijbuiter, literally translated as "West Indian buccaneer." Later, however, in the 1800s, filibuster referred to carpetbaggers of the farther South- US citizens who attempted to gain possession of Latin American nations through sketchy political means. It's easy to make the connection between a pirate and someone who hijacks a country, and equally easy to make a connection between a cantankerous political method to make things happen your way and the modern-day definition of filibuster. Another fun little tidbit about filibuster is its connection to the word freebooter (meaning "pirate"); they both descended from vrijbuiter, though only one kept its definition.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd